SPEC Kit 340: Open Source Software  · 71
Guidelines for Contributing to Open/Community Source Software
8/26/2012 Page 2 of 4
Open Source Software (OSS), as used in these Guidelines, means computer software that is available in
source code form for which the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are
provided under a software license that permits users to use, study, change, and improve the software.
Source Code, as used in these Guidelines, means a collection of human-readable text and/or programming
commands needed to specify the actions to be performed by a computer or computing device.
The University of California not only uses O/CSS in furtherance of its mission, in a growing number of cases the
University also contributes code back to those O/CSS communities. Benefits accrue to the University as a
result of making such contributions, but in so doing the University takes on certain associated responsibilities.
Benefits that accrue to the University as a result of contributing code to communities supporting the O/CSS
solutions it uses include:
Adoption of an O/CSS solution can be an important long term investment. Every effort that the
University makes to contribute to that O/CSS solution helps to ensure its ongoing success which in term
protects the University's investment in that solution.
Contributing code can enable the University to influence the direction of an O/CSS solution to ensure
that it continues to align with the University's needs.
Code developed by the University for an O/CSS solution is likely done to customize the O/CSS to meet
the University’s specific needs. Each time the University upgrades to a new version of that O/CSS,
it may have to expend additional resources to develop the same code customization to apply to the new
version. If the code that the University contributions back to the O/CSS community is incorporated into
the core code for all subsequent versions, then the University will save resources by not having to
develop the same customized code for each new version.
It is easier to ask for and receive support from an O/CSS community when one also gives back to that
community. By helping others, we help ourselves.
Responsibilities that the University takes on as a result of contributing code to communities supporting the
O/CSS solutions it uses include:
The University’s contribution of code does not guarantee that it will be approved for incorporation into
the core code. For this reason it is important that the University ensure that any code it may contribute
meets a sufficient level of technical quality and usefulness.
The University must take appropriate steps to confirm that the code to be contributed was fully created
by the University and/or its representatives, and does not contain the intellectual property of others.
The University must take appropriate steps to ensure that the code to be contributed does not
have prior conflicting intellectual property rights obligations or restrictions. Code developed under some
form of externally sponsored research should be closely reviewed for this.
The University must take appropriate steps to determine that the contribution of the code is in the
University’s best interest.
The use of each individual O/CSS solution is governed by the terms and conditions under which it is licensed,
and is protected under United States Copyright law. Furthermore, the University has various internal policies
related to Intellectual Property (IP) that may be pertinent to the contribution of code to O/CSS communities. The
University is obligated by policy and law to ensure that any code contributions to an O/CSS community are in
compliance with the terms and conditions of the pertinent license, laws and internal policies.
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